Making the Shift from Leading to Exceptional Leadership

Fact: Leadership and management are two different things. Most people use these terms interchangeably, but the reality is, the skills needed to lead are different from those needed to manage. And, in my observation, good leaders don’t necessarily make great managers and vice versa. Those who make it to the top figure out how to balance both. Many a “leader” will get derailed or suffer career stall if they stay in the weeds of “management” and many a “manager” will never make it beyond a certain rank because of their inability to delegate and get out of the way of their teams.

It’s odd, but somehow the MBA has evolved to be the “seal of leadership ability” approval. Yet, review most MBA curricula and less than 10% of the learning focuses on leadership. Perhaps because true leadership is learned by doing… not from a binder or a lecture.

Leaders: Over-Stretched and Under Pressure

So what makes a great leader? It’s a multitude of interrelated skills, abilities, behaviours and attitudes. It often starts with self-awareness and empathy, and goes into listening skills, the ability to create an environment of trust and being more coach-like with team members to give them space to grow and develop as well.

However, as leaders, we can get so wrapped up in our own pressures that we forget about the daily impact we can have on our teams. Most leaders today are treading water, trying to do it all.

Recently, I hosted a webinar on our need to reinvent our relationship with what it means to be a leader. When I asked our webinar attendees if they felt pressure to be “all things to all people” as leaders, the overwhelming majority said yes. This is a problem.

The Move to the Collective

The future of leadership is connected to our ability to move from a highly individualized view of a “hero leader” who is able to be the one stop shop (Advice! Ideas! Everything!), to a collective approach where teams lean in and cultivate success together.

Imagine if your high-value leaders were so engaged and passionate about the vision for the company that they were able to galvanize those around them, helping colleagues and team members to bring out their true potential, raising the waterline of the whole organization. That’s exceptional leadership. And, it’s possible. We’ve seen it in the work we do with our clients.

If you’d like to learn more about how you can cultivate exceptional leadership in your organization, feel free to reach out to me to discuss your strategic priorities. Together we can break down silos in your organization and create an exceptional place to work.



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